One of the latest trends in the industry is to apply the black color as a theme to create a limited edition of a product. Rolls-Royce is the latest automaker to have done so, with the 2021 Ghost Black Badge, but many other examples appeared over the past few years. In fact, all the pictures you will see on this article show Black series released all around the world.
Even though the black color looks great on most of those car models, that is not enough reason to justify such a specific preference. And yet, it is difficult to find information from official sources on why have many companies resorted to such a specific theme. Here, we aim to gather the scarce evidence available to try and understand why black editions became so popular.
Why the color black?
Color theory has rather divisive information on it. On the bright side, it exudes elegance and sophistication for appearing on the logos of many luxury brands, and being the priority color of formal attire. However, our structural concepts have also tied the color black to pretty much everything negative, from bad luck and problematic relatives to the very death.
Another interesting observation is that this is an absolute color; since anything lighter than pure black is officially named gray, it does not have shades like blue or red. Speaking of pure black, the fact that it represents a complete absorption of light, some manufacturers have been toying with pigments like VantaBlack, which BMW has even used on a conceptual X6.
How is it applied to cars?
In practice, cars apply the color black mainly on the exterior because it is the most visible part. Besides the body paint, you can observe it on details which normally use chrome trim, such as rearview mirrors, door handles and grille frames, but there have been cases where even the wheels were painted black so as to give a sense of agressive sportiness.
When it comes to the cabin, the most noticeable use of the color black is at the seats. However, since this layout is usually applied to entry-level cars, makers tend to focus on a contrasting color. It could be something like beige or tan, to make the room warm and welcoming, or chrome trim to give it a sense of cold precision and some high-tech image.
While the first examples were all centered on the key color, most of them used it as part of a theme: black and any contrasting color, glossy black, or “midnight”, which was based on dark colors in general. In general, they focused on making the exterior look mysterious and secretive while the cabin used lighter tones to seem familiar and cozy.
The Brabus tuner centers its image around the color black. Most of its cars use it pretty much everywhere.
Recent examples are no longer literal. Some of them use black only on external accents and others allow other body colors as well. In these cases, it is easier to see the color black on the marketing campaign than on the car itself. Companies use their finest graphic design skills to entice potential customers by making the car classy and exclusive.
What is their market effect?
As usual, marketing has managed to enhance the positive aspects and neutralize the negative ones. The limited editions released so far have used the color black as a sign of good taste, since it does not add conflicting visual information, and strength, given that it has no variations. It has been given an unspoken sense of being the only right way to sophistication.
As you have seen, black editions are not used for sportiness, luxury or any other specific purpose; they have become a symbol of improvement in general. That is why people have become so drawn to it and, as a result, automakers have spared no effort to put it on sale — even if some of the most recent applications have not quite followed the original guidelines.
Although the automotive industry has always played with colors to promote its concoctions, black has become its go-to option for a long time. The consistently positive feedback from buyers has encouraged companies to invest more on it, but this virtuous cycle has managed to change the original concept over time. What other similar situations do you know?